The Stiff-Legged Bear

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The Stiff-Legged Bear

Region of origin: Various northern indigenous tribes of North America

Also known as Gici Awas to the Abenaki, Nyah-Gwaheh to the Seneca and Iroquois, and a host of other names among several other tribes, details of stories involving the Stiff-Legged or Naked Bear may change between groups but all share a description of a type of massive, hairless bear with a larger-than-normal head, large sharp teeth and the stiff-jointed legs from which it takes its name. They are often depicted as especially aggressive man-eaters. An Iroquois legend in particular identifies it as the bear associated with the Big Dipper constellation, who is hunted through the sky and slain causing its dripping blood to stain the leaves red each autumn, only for the beast to rise again from the dead each year and repeat the cycle. There is some belief the common description may originate from a corruption of descriptions of mammoths remembered through ancestral stories, or arisen as an explanation after the discovery of mammoth skulls or fossils.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

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Aigikampoi

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Aigikampoi

Region of origin: Mespotamia and Mediterranean regions

A half-goat, half-fish creature, the aigikampoi was used as a symbol of the Mesopotamian god Enki (or Ea), thought to be a visual metaphor acting as a bridge between his aspects representing the earth and the sea. They are later featured in the iconography and art of the Etruscans and then adapted by the Greeks, associating them with the gods Aphrodite and Pan and the astrological sign Capricorn.

[Sources referenced: X | X | X ]

Karkinos

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Karkinos

Region of origin: Greece

While Hercules fought the Lernean Hydra for his second Labor, Hera sent Karkinos, a massive crab, to distract him and hopefully cause him to fail his task. The crab snipped at Hercules’ feet, and per two versions of the myth it was either crushed and killed by Hercules and Hera took pity on the creature she had sent to its death, immortalizing it as the constellation Cancer, or Hercules kicked Karkinos away so hard it flew into space and stayed there.

Originally posted on Tumblr on August 25, 2016

Laelaps

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Laelaps

Region of origin: Greece

A hound blessed to catch whatever she hunted, Laelaps was a gift from Zeus to Europa and passed down through several owners until finally coming into the care of Procris and her husband Cephalus. Amphitryon, a general of Thebes, came to Cephalus to ask him to use the dog who could catch anything to help deal with the Teumessian fox who could never be caught. The two entered into the paradoxical conflict and, unable to otherwise reach a resolution, Zeus intervened and turned the two to stone. They were then cast into the stars and became the constellations Canis Minor (the fox) and Canis Major (the hound).

(See the first half of this post here)

Originally posted on Tumblr on May 16, 2016

The Teumessian Fox

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The Teumessian Fox

Region of origin: Thebes, Greece

Sent by Dionysus as a punishment to the city of Thebes, the Teumessian Fox was a giant fox who terrorized the city and specifically targeted its children. By the vengeful god’s doing the fox was too swift to ever be caught by man or beast so its reign of terror continued unabated for months, in some tellings the people of Thebes regularly giving one child to it as a sacrifice in hopes of otherwise appeasing its destructive wrath. Eventually, Kreon, King of Thebes, sought out for help in eliminating the beast.

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Originally posted on Tumblr on May 15, 2016